An overview of instrumental material from Russian guitar wizard Alexander Kostarev from 1978 to 2006 with various lineups of devastatingly talented back up musicians. Oddly enough this overlooked musical genius has had only two releases in a career that has spanned over the better part of three decades and how his creative intellect has gone largely unnoticed just makes one shake their head. Well, if anything this synopsis of material, largely from the vaults that never saw the light of day, will hopefully set the record straight as a proper release of studio recordings is anxiously awaited.
Fusing a wide spectrum of musical ideas Kostarev`s brand of fusion is unique and completely “out there” and must be heard to be believed. Medeivalisms, free form jazz, folk, baroque and 1000 MPH angular electric guitar riffing are some ingredients which have made up his frenzied, frantic style over the past 30 years or so. Madness would be another word for it. The best example of this can be heard on the earliest track from 1978 , ” No Fear ” which is a live freeform jam which starts out in a pretty standard way with woodwinds, a trumpet and some nice Thelonious Monk-like piano but then burns itself into a wah wahed out guitar/violin meltdown with everyone else just losing it and going completely nuts.
The music can also be dramatic, sub-dued and straight-forward as in the comparatively laid back , “A Whole Lotta Patience”, which features smooth keyboards and has hints of flamenco in Kostarev`s fluid guitar work. 1995`s “Turn-A- Round” is also interesting in a dark way with it`s programmed slow tempo drum machine and wacked out electronic effects. It sort of reminds one of a parade of gouls doing some sort of macabre dance. ” Pilgrim ” from the same year conveys similar spooky impressions but with more eclecticism. “Grass Of Blue” from 1985 moves into avant garde territory and is even more experimental with sequenced strange resonating electronic effects produced by both keyboards and Kostarev`s guitar. Oddly enough these earlier tracks make up the second half of the disc and the quality of these recordings are flawed in various ways. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the shear brilliance of the music.
The first five tracks are more definitive of the Kostarev group in it`s present form having since 1997 gone through a few name changes from Alexander Kostarev`s Quadraphonic Sound Theatre to KosMoBob to Kostarev Group. They define their present music as ” time fusion”, music through which the listener can experience the last 4 centuries simultaneously. With the additions of a violin, flute, saxophone, cello they accomplish this quite effectively and the track Menuetto #3 which is a section from a larger composition, Concerto Grosso # 1 which can be heard in it`s entirety on their Live@InProg2003 CD. The other darker themed tracks “A-theist Hacker” with it`s art/science/religion conotations, the apocalyptic ” Heavy Water” and the mezmerizing ” Hoop” all feature Katerina Morozova`s ominously effective multi layered synth/keyboard/phantom bass treatments which give a deep contrast to great effect with Kostarev`s lightning speed guitar barrages. This newer music is tight and fast and at times can remind the listener of music from U.K. or some of Bruford`s early solo work with Alan Holdsworth and Jeff Berlin. The first track here is actually a cover of an Eddie Jobson composition entitled ” who`s Flying Over Me ” and also appears on an Eddie Jobson tribute album.
Until Kostarev Group`s first studio album, to be titled “Vegatarian” which was actually completed in 2001, is released in the near future this disc, along with their Live@InProg 2003, serve as precious documents of an overlooked musician of immeasurable calibre and the music he has created over the past 30 years. Simply mind blowing stuff.
1. Who’s Flying Over Me (2006) (4:55)
2. Menouetto (part 3 from Concerto Grosso #1, 2003) (6:03)
3. A-theist Hacker (from Live @ InProg 2003, 2003) (5:55)
4. Heavy Water (KosMoBob, 2001) (6:18)
5. Hoop (KosMoBob, 2001) (5:34)
6. Turn-A-Round (Dead Music, 1995) (5:01)
7. Pilgrim (Dead Music, 1995) (6:27)
8. Whole Lotta of Patience (Perekrestok, 1980) (5:26)
9. Grass of Blue (Perekrestok, 1980) (3:49)
10. No Fears (Perekrestok, Sverdlovsk Jazz-Festival, 1978, live bootleg) (13:28)